Makerlab in Comuna 20 / Cali

Designed and developped in Fablab Cali

Community Robotics Social initiatives Education

Created with the idea and the support of Fablab Cali, the Makerlab Comuna 20 is a makerspace located in a public library in a violent and poor district of Cali. Its objective : changing inhabitants mindset by empowering them and gathering them through digital fabrication.

Technologies used

3D printing Laser cutting Computing & softwares Electronics Robotics Photo & video

What’s the project story?

In 2013, the library of the Comuna 20 has been selected among 70 to be one of the 21 “punto digital”. More than a library, the government invested in computers and Internet connection accessible freely by each local citizen. The idea was to fill the technological gap among Cali districts while trying to fix the violence issue in this area. Even if the need was real, very few people used to come and it didn’t enable to open doors for discussion and improvements. This statement was made by the new manager, Brandi Fernanda Jimenez, one year later. She decided to organize the place by creating more welcoming spaces and by offering activities adapted to the needs and availabilities of the users. She succeeded to attract mothers by offering not only a nursery to enable them to work but mainly awakening activities for the kids that made all the difference. Her improvements were multiplied with the arrival of Paulo, who designed a successful robotic course that attracted teenagers. Through it, he developed kids competencies but above all he succeeded to change their behaviour. They learnt to share, to persevere, to work in team and to be positive and ambitious about the future. This context was ideal to create a makerspace : they had a charismatic and involved leader, a community, a space and results to be strengthen with the digital fabrication and a new pedagogic approach.
In 2016, the team was looking for a way of going further with the impact of the space. They met a teacher of the UAO, in an event about SMART pedagogic approach, who made the link with the Fablab Cali team.

How the workshop was useful ?

Fablab Cali and the fundation of the library supported the creation of the makerlab by financing and guiding the team through the installation and use of the space with 3 main activities : - Robotics and electronics - Audiovisual - Social and cultural entrepreneurship

The team of UAO not only helped to design the space and to train the library team but they also support them to develop new activities, to be part of the local maker community and to communicate about their success.

What’s the project’s greatest success so far?

2 years later, the place gathers regular users from 4 years old to 75. The younger come for the nursery, the teenagers for the robotic course and the seniors to produce crafted objets to earn money. Mother who used to be septic about the well of a nursery are now part of the new pedagogic projects. Teenagers who used to quit the robotic course before the end are all deeply involved until the end. Seniors who used to come to play bingo have created their own company. A workshop to write the story of their district has even gathered all those generations who made a ebook and physical figurines, which describes the invisible barriers of their district, awarded at a national level. Faced with this success, due to the support of Fablab Cali and the amazing team, the place has been recognized as a technological but also social point of interest for the city. It attracted new sponsors, making new projets come true.

What’s your greatest failure(s)& lesson(s) so far?

The biggest challenge we had to face was to attract teenagers. They were our main target but the most difficult to catch. Indeed, they were all involved or victims of the gang war which divides the district in parts. The “invisible barriers” is a big problem here and the library stands for a neutral place located in the middle. Inside the wall nothing may happen to you but you need a good reason to cross the barriers to come here. This good reason, Paulo and the team gave it to them by risking their live coming in their place and by taking the time to listen and understand their problems. More than a robotic course, it was a place for them to get free of their problems and to find new hope and marks. We developed a dedicated approach based on relationship and science and we also tried to involve their parents through events and meetings. The makerlab was a great support to attract interesting youngsters and to retain them by making concrete projects they can show as a proof of their capacities to their parents.

What’s your vision for the project & next steps?

We aim to offer new activities and workshops and to strengthen our connections with local organisations such as schools, companies, foundations which can help our users to go further in their personal or profesional projects.

How can anyone interested can contribute to the project?

We are looking for good ideas and projects that can benefit to our community and continue to improve the life quality of our district.

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